They give, and they take away…USATF replaces Millrose Games with U.S. Open

posted by The Track & Field Superblog
Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 11:04pm EST

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The indoor version of USATF’s VISA Championship Series was unveiled today.

The plus side: there’s a new meet at Madison Square Garden, called the U.S. Open, held on January 29. That’s the same weekend that Millrose had been held over the last few years, but on a Saturday instead of Millrose’s traditional Friday night.

Recall that last fall, the Millrose Games’ management announced it was moving the meet out of MSG and uptown to The Armory. USATF opposed the move and withdrew its funding, somewhere in the range of $1 million. The Millrose Games will not be part of the VISA Championship Series this year.

There hasn’t been a new pro-level meet in the USA since the Tyson Invitational, and that was just a college meet with an evening of sponsored pro races (Tyson withdrew its sponsorship a few years back, and the meet went back to colleges only). Before that, the last new meet was probably the one at Icahn Stadium, now known as the adidas Grand Prix.

Can New York support two pro meets in one winter? And will there be enough pros to go around? Bernard Lagat has already signed on for the US Open, and Allyson Felix for the Millrose Games. But who else will show up, this being an Olympic year, “when the pros would rather hug a porcupine than the idea of running indoors“. Track and Field News editor Garry Hill worries that two meets might weaken the product enough that neither can stand. We will have to wait and see.

The minus side: what little live television coverage we’d gotten over the last few years is now gone. All three meets will be shown on a tape-delay basis, with the first two being delayed by a whole day.

Whoever does the TV work for USATF doesn’t get it: if it’s not live, it might as well be dead. What is this, the 70s?

USATF pays its our own money to get the VISA Championship Series on television. Why not try for live coverage? And if Sundays are preferrable for available (read: affordable) TV slots, why not have the meets on Sundays? It doesn’t appear to hurt any other pro sport to have Sunday competition.

NBC and USATF are two organizations failing horribly, because they act like it’s still the 70s and 80s. They haven’t the foggiest idea what people want in 2011.


The full VISA Championship Series schedule:

U.S. Open at Madison Square Garden
January 28
New York City, New York
watch ESPN, January 29, 7:00 – 9:00 PM

New Balance Indoor Grand Prix
February 4
Boston, Massachusetts
watch ESPN2, February 5, 2:00 – 4:00 PM

USA Indoor Championships
February 25 – 26
Albuquerque, New Mexico
watch ESPN, February 26, 8:00 – 10:00 PM

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